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Toy Express rolls through rain

Community: Dozens of families turn out to donate toys and greet Santa

Posted: December 6, 2010 10:31 p.m.
Updated: December 7, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Onlookers watch as Metrolink’s Holiday Toy Express train leaves Newhall Metrolink Station on Sunday in Newhall. The train stopped at the station to collect toys for a drive by Southern California firefighters.

Right after Santa’s “sleigh” — Metrolink’s Holiday Toy Express — departed from the Newhall Metrolink Station after a visit, the Luna family rushed back to their car as a downpour that started midway through the event continued Sunday night.

After splashing through several puddles, the family of three ducked inside its car — and reached for the heater knob.

The Lunas — father Martin, mother Icela and 3-year-old son Oax — traveled to Newhall from Panorama City after missing the train’s Burbank visit.

“We were determined to see Santa’s train in Newhall,” said Icela Luna, 38. “We knew Oax was going to love it.”

Besides, they had a teddy bear to donate.

Despite the pouring rain, Santa’s modernized “sleigh” — a 450-ton train decorated with 50,000 twinkling lights — made the Newhall stop to collect donated toys from residents. Santa was on hand to visit with children, too.

The Holiday Toy Express is an annual event in support of Southland firefighters’ Spark of Love Toy Drive. The express is sponsored by Metrolink and KABC Channel 7.

“We didn’t bring an umbrella or anything, but we weren’t going back,” the mother said. “Christmas is an important time to try to help other people. If you give something, maybe later on you’re going to be blessed, too.”

When the train pulled into the Newhall Metrolink Station, a crowd had already formed. People were holding umbrellas, and children were wrapped in blankets. And then it poured.

But the show had to go on. Santa and friends put on a Christmas performance as onlookers snapped photos of the train’s bright and cheerful holiday displays.

For many local families, greeting the Holiday Toy Express has become a family tradition.

“We come here every year,” said Brenda Aladuena, 12. “It is what we do every Christmas.”

Dozens of local families brought toys to contribute to the drive.


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